Psychology is changing, and hopefully, it is changing for the better
Posted Sep 28, 2014
The good news is that psychology today is turning a corner towards a positive orientation, that supports people, not only in dealing with core trauma, old wounding and current crises, but does so through the lens of human resilience, spirituality, strength based qualities and more. YAY for that! Even as an old (ish) professor of psychology, the latest text I am using has a chapter on Contemplative Psychology. Who’d a thunk it after all these years of DSM-ing it?
And flowing freely and powerfully from this shifting dynamic in the field of psychology is the newly emerging field of life coaching. You’ve heard of it. But do you get it? This field asks clients to be responsible for life; to make willful and conscious choices; to get to know themselves, in their best and worst selves and then live life fully! From the highest point of life purpose to the very act of smiling, coaching invites the creation of the best Self, in each one of us.
My life has been in psychosynthesis, a transpersonal psychology, orienting towards just these things. Psychosynthesis showed up on the scene at the same time that transpersonal psychology announced itself, in the late 60’s. (That was quite a time!) And the founder of psychosynthesis, Roberto Assagioli, was on the first board of editors of the still-going Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Another shout out for that journal that has held its own in an uneasy alliance with the field of psychology that has often wanted to keep the spiritual out of the psychological. HAH! Past, present or future problems need not only real-time resolution, but need to be oriented within a life of purpose, meaning and values. And that is transpersonal work! And coaching is wide open to a transpersonal point of view, from the heights of spirituality to the “actionable” or manifesting processes that anyone needs to go through to:
1) solve a problem
2) meet goals
3) manifest dreams
4) take risks
5) find a meaningful life path
6) live with grace in the face of whatever conditions present themselves.
“As a rule,” Assagioli stated long ago, “We live life more or less as it comes. Yet the business of living is in reality an art and should be the greatest of all the arts.”
And so it should be. Psychology, in its expanding movement, is beginning to allow this, through the many voices of transpersonal psychology, the relatively new field of coaching, and perhaps most powerfully, though the emerging field of transformational coaching. For in this work, of facing our lives and embracing them, we need not travel alone. In psychosynthesis, the names for coach (or counselor) and client are traveler and guide, because we become our best selves, when we have allies, support, guides and mentors. When we travel the path of life with others, we find the support we need.
For all of this I am glad. It point us to one more wonderful quote, by a current Buddhist theorist, Robert Thurman.
“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”